How to Overcome Workplace Distractions

We have all had those moments in our managerial careers wherein we pop onto our stations, settle in, and map out everything that needs to be done for the day down to the last moment before turning in. Then, as if on cue, things just start popping up. These are the unplanned things that will eat up your time. At this point, it would be good to ask yourself, “Do I really need to do this? Are these things necessary or are they just distractions?”

Workplace Distractions

Distractions can come from two sources: internal and external. Internal distractions are those that come from the individual. These may include boredom or lack of interest, lack of motivation, or low self-confidence. External distractions are those that originate from the environment. These might be noise pollution, temperature, ergonomics, or other people around you.

But just how damaging are these interferences? According to, a social email software provider, an employee who can’t veer away from social media during office hours can cost a company $10,375 of wasted productivity per year.

Therefore, it is imperative to overcome these distractions if you are to get something done. Add to that the fact that your subordinates are looking up to you as their manager to lead by example, and to not be the first one to fall in this vicious vortex.

Internal Distractions Since internal distractions come from yourself, it might seem to be the easiest to handle but they are actually not. Understanding what’s getting in your way is a big step in managing this. If you find yourself lacking in interest and not entirely motivated to do your job, these might be caused by simple boredom, which is what somebody would feel if he is doing the same task repeatedly.

  • Organizing your workplace is a simple way to counteract boredom. Maybe because your workplace is just like anybody else’s in your office and you see it almost every day of the year, you fell into the routine trap.
  • You might also want to volunteer for jobs not required of you. This might raise a few eyebrows but this will keep you busy doing things you don’t normally do.
  • If all else fails, take a breather. Go outside. Fresh air might do you some good and clear your mind.

When you find yourself lacking in motivation, think of this: what you are doing is important to the company, and without you, the whole structure will not function properly. Keeping this in mind would probably bring back the lost interest and motivation. If not, you should consider a little time off because you might be experiencing signs of burning out.

External Distractions

It is obvious that your workplace is a major influence when it comes to concentration and focus. Therefore, factors such as noise, your officemates, your table, and even your chair can sometimes be detrimental to work.

As these things are external, they can be managed just by altering your environment. Assuming you have an office of your own, removed from the cubicle farm, outside noises might not affect you that much. What you have to look out for are those unannounced visits by co-workers who happened to drop by just to chat. This is particularly hard if you yourself wanted to talk to the visitor. To appear not rude, politely tell said visitor to please drop by later because you have an urgent task that requires immediate attention.

Gina Trapani, founding editor of, advocates time blocking or blocking off an hour or two from your time for yourself just to finish a work in progress. It is quite extreme, but if that get things done, then heed her advice.

The Internet is, obviously one of the main source of external distractions. These may be in the forms of e-mails, social media, or anything in the cyberworld that you think are that important for you to read right now. What you can do is schedule times when you would check your emails, and only do so when appointed time comes.

When it comes to social media., you could just log off first and resist the temptation to open them up while you are working. Nothing can be that important that is happening right now other than your work. The same goes with your mobile phone. Set it on silent mode so you wouldn’t feel the urge to check it every time the tone sounds off.

There are certain distractions that are unavoidable and will require your attention. These include emergency meetings and important appointments passed on to you by the higher ups in which case, you can do nothing but put off work for a while and attend to them.

Overcoming distractions in the office entails a good deal of discipline. You need to reign in your urge to give in because in the end, your work would eventually suffer.

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